Let’s Change the Conversation
IN A WORLD WHERE ANGRY VOICES serve their agendas as the only just cause, where they demand their rights at the expense of others, and where our institutions are satisfied with narrow-margin victories that are easily overturned when the winds of power shift, how can a community avoid angry polarization?
According to Pew Research, we are as divided a country has we have been since they started measuring in 1994, and their last tracking came before the incredibly divisive 2016 election and the attempts by Russia to foment our national animosity. Legislators seem content with paralysis, the media feed the vitriol, and lobbyists seek to exploit government power to buy favors for a few. Facing divisive issues often has unforeseen minefields that can throw you into deep conflict or litigation, resulting in court-ordered “solutions” that satisfy no one.
It is time to look beyond politics as usual and discover how to cultivate a new Common Ground allowing people to forge broad-based agreements that address differences and treat them fairly. This is Common Ground Thinking where people rise above self-interest, reassert the common good, and encourage diverse groups to work cooperatively without compromising their deepest convictions.
Since 1992, BridgeBuilders has helped communities stake out the common ground and have had great success in bringing together polarized groups in education, business and society, encouraging them to communicate past their differences, and then design mutually beneficial solutions. This is not everyone agreeing to just "get along," but people participating in the hardest work of a democratic republic—to
We do not attempt to change people's minds on the issues, but to change the conversation from what's best for me, to what is good for us all. By treasuring our civic compact to guard each other's rights and by building mutual respect across our deepest differences, we have seen many communities find those creative solutions that fulfill the American ideal for "a more perfect union". These agreements not only rebuild the fabric of the community itself, but also stand the test of time in the changing winds of our society.
We have found most Americans are sick of politics as usual, and when given the opportunity will seek out a common ground that is fair and compassionate toward their fellow Americans.
See Wayne’s recent appearance at the 2018 TEDx ACU conference, and on the podcast, “A Christian and a Muslim Walk Into Common Ground” on the BridgeBuilder Media Page.